"Privilege To Be There": Keep To Soak Up Egg Week

STEVE Keep knows his chances of winning Saturday night's Group 1 Ladbrokes Golden Easter Egg Final (520m) with Baroque Knight are $151.

David Brasch

8 April 2021

STEVE Keep knows his chances of winning Saturday night’s Group 1 Ladbrokes Golden Easter Egg Final (520m) with Baroque Knight are $151.

But whatever the result he’s already told his partner Shannon they should head to Wentworth Park “just to soak it all up”.

“It doesn’t matter where we run, it’s just a privilege to be there,” said Keepie.

“This is what it’s all about – it doesn’t happen everyday so you have to make the most of it.”

Baroque Knight (Fernando Bale-Cosmic Heir) will have an army of supporters, especially in Tassie where the Tindall family bred, reared and still own him, when he gives Keep, 57, just his second Group finalist and his first Group 1.

He won the 2003 Group 2 Tweed Heads Galaxy Final with Sootie Allover at his only other appearance in a race at group race level.

Baroque Knight won his way into the Golden Easter Egg final when chasing home a flying Wow into second in his semi-final last Saturday night, defying his odds of $41.

“I told anyone at home at Grafton who would listen that he could go close to making the final,” said Keepie.

“After the race one of the other trainers told me I was riding him home harder than Mick Dittman ever did.”

Baroque Knight, according to Keepie, will be the sixth youngest dog to ever contest an Egg final. He turned two in February.

The Egg campaign has been mapped out by Keep for months after Baroque Knight went quick over 420m when winning at Lismore in 23.60 back in January.

“He came home in 13.99 that night and Fast Times holds the record and when he ran that he came home in 13.98,” said Keepie.

When Baroque Knight arrived in the Keep kennel to be educated he already had a few dogs for the Tindalls.

“He was a bad box dog originally,” said Keepie.

“He’d look up at the roof of the boxes. My suggestion was to race it out of him and that’s what has happened.”

Keepie has been in greyhounds since he was eight helping out his grandmother, Northern Rivers legend Lila Simpson.

He was thrilled on Saturday night just to run second to a superstar like Wow.

“And we beat home some fair dogs behind us,” he said. “I had 26 messages on the phone within minutes of the race being over.”

Keepie’s Egg plans started months ago with a trial on the track.

“I took him down for a Prelude and he went terrible,” he said. “The following week I was going to just put him in a fifth grade but when I found out they have only a handful of noms for the Prelude I put him in again and he won.”

He said the Tindalls are “over the moon” to be in the final and by late Saturday night they had already backed Baroque Knight to win a small fortune if he happened to take out the Egg.

“The place punt has been huge as well,” said Keepie.

“They are the nicest family. It’s my birthday on February 29, yes I have a birthday every four years. This year, the family put a few bucks into my account as a birthday present. How nice is that.”

Steve and Shannon, who he says is the backbone of the operation, have been training leaders around the Northern Rivers and only last year won 75 races, ran 74 seconds and 70 thirds “with some very average dogs”.

Of the Egg final, Keepie sees box four as a plus.

“He goes straight and I prefer him off an even box because he comes out better,” he said.

The kennel is planning a night to remember on Saturday.

“We’ve got shirts being made,” he said. “On the back will be the Newcastle Knights logo and on top of that will be BAROQUE. Everyone wants a shirt.”

Baroque Knight will spell win, lose or draw after Saturday night.

“He’s copped it lately going down to Sydney every weekend for six weeks in a row, plus trialling, plus the night that was rained out, so he deserves a rest,” he said.

The Golden Easter Egg comes around only once every year and Steve Keep, even in his wildest dreams, would never have thought he would be lining up with a finalist.

“A big thrill, a huge thrill actually,” he said. “Saturday can’t come quick enough.”